Accounting Influencers Roundtable


How We Solve the Accounting Talent Pipeline Problem

Host Rob Brown is joined by Sue Coffey, CEO of Public Accounting at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), and Lexy Kessler, Partner at Aprio and Chair of the AICPA’s National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG). They look into the alarming talent shortage facing the accounting profession and the potential solutions proposed by the NPAG.

Lexy and Sue discuss the overwhelming evidence pointing to a significant talent pipeline issue in accounting, including declining enrolment in accounting programs, fewer students pursuing the CPA credential, and challenges in retaining young professionals in their first five years of employment. But can the profession overcome this challenge? Rob, Sue, and Lexy explore the root causes, such as the profession’s perceived image, the cost and time commitment of education, and the need for evolving business models at accounting firms.

The NPAG’s findings underscore the urgency of addressing the talent pipeline issue collaboratively, involving stakeholders from academia, regulators, state societies, and the profession itself. Sue and Lexy share their optimism that by implementing the recommended solutions, the accounting profession can overcome this challenge and attract the talent required to thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape.

“We are a profession that communities, businesses, and economies need, and we just need to address our talent shortages and adapt.” – Sue Coffey

“It’s not just Debits and credits to that point. It’s really about the business person piece of it and the different scenarios and the strategy behind the numbers as well. So there’s much more to it than, than processing or, or producing a product and that’s it. It’s much, much more than that.” – Lexy Kessler

Key Takeaways:

The accounting profession is struggling with a talent pipeline shortage, but it’s not “withering on the vine” as some suggest. – Sue Coffey

Improving storytelling and celebrating the profession’s impact is crucial to attract younger generations. – Lexy Kessler

The cost and time commitment of education, especially for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, is a significant barrier to entry. – Sue Coffey

Firms need to evolve their business models to provide a better experience for young professionals in their first five years, addressing issues like excessive hours and meaningful work assignments. – Sue Coffey

Modernizing the CPA licensure process is a long-term goal to ensure the profession remains sustainable and relevant in the future. – Lexy Kessler

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